Let’s take iRest Meditation for a Test Drive – Your Mileage May Vary

by Jay Coldwell, RYT-200 & iRest Meditation Level 2 Teacher 

The stream of consciousness below is similar to what many people experience in an iRest guided meditation practice. As you do your test drive, be sure to notice some things:

  • Moving into direct experience, beyond thoughts and language. Embodiment of sensation, emotion, thought, belief. This is a somatic experience. An experience that welcomes whatever arises. No attachment or aversion. No “trying not to think”.
  • A slow release of the I-centric thought. Noticing presence without reference to “I”. Not trying to do that, but it happens because of the somatic technique of the body scan and breath awareness.
  • Curiosity as to what is coming into Awareness; what is real; defensiveness falling away; letting truth emerge out of insight from the heart.
  • Noticing a Stillness that is always there. It gets covered by the noise of the world, but as we practice iRest, we also notice that Stillness is ALWAYS available, and that everything arises in Stillness.

Enjoy your test drive!

Here I am, attending iRest guided meditation. I hope it’s not too weird. I hope I don’t fall asleep. But how could I fall asleep in a room full of other people, or on Zoom? That’s not going to happen.

Why am I here? What is bugging me? Something is bugging me. Not sure – maybe there is something wrong with me. My boss seems to think so, sometimes….

So. Here we go. Tuning in to the sensations of the room – light, sound, touch, smell, taste….presence of others…..I hope I have time to get to the grocery store. I hope people are wearing masks now……Oh yes, sensations in the room…..Noticing how senses are more vivid when I focus attention on them one-by-one.

Why am I here – oh yes….what is bugging me…is there something wrong??? I should have worn more comfortable clothes, or at least something that looks better….Yes, what IS BUGGING ME? Hmmm. calm down a bit.

Feeling into that memory of Lake Superior, its sounds, movement, deep vitality, it’s gentle swells evoking a feeling of dynamic security, safety, attunement with life……sanctuary…..in the flow.

Remembering that my motivation is for the benefit of all…for myself for sure, but also for all…I even contribute to charity….and I develop skills that help people….I took CPR certification, right? So some things are right with me…..

Ok – let’s focus…..I wonder what the new restaurant across the street is like….we’ll have to go there soon….oops – OK –

Feeling sensations in the jaw…..the teeth….gums….tongue….sides of the mouth….roof of the mouth……any tastes present……and then moving awareness to the inner ear…..really – can people be aware of their inner ear??? ….the structure of the outer ear…any sensation in the outer ear…..hmmm….what was it I needed to do tonight? Something I needed to remember…..feeling the weight of the eyes pressing back into the head….and behind the eyes…..whoa…I do feel something here….following the guidance….really aware of the hands….palms of the hands…..left, then right, then both together…..brain doesn’t talk so much now….oops, focus……..feeling the surface of the body….feeling beyond the body….hey you can!…focus…..following energy of breath on left side, then right side, then both sides…..hmmm…this feels sleepy…..I CAN’T fall asleep – what if I snore???

Now noticing what is present…(what does that mean)….curious…what IS there?…..sensation…pain in left shoulder…..tight….warm…..deep red……pulsating…..radiant……Hmm…it changes as Awareness moves there….bigger, then smaller…..How would it be if that wasn’t there??….curious…..attending…..feeling…..words don’t describe it, but the sensation is distinct…….Now feeling both the pain and the other sensation at the same time…..amazing….shifting…..

A belief comes into Awareness……my boss thinks I’m not good enough……yes, that constricts, right there…..noticing size, texture, movement……..and an opposite belief comes into Awareness……I’m ok….feeling that…size, texture, movement….alternating then feeling both at once….. …… …… …… hmmm….communication could change…..remember that…..

And letting Awareness rest……mind rest….. …… ….. Noticing Stillness…… a brief moment of Stillness….. Resting…… Stillness pervading…. Timeless, Spacious, Familiar, Whole, Perfect…..Resting… Stillness…. …… ….. …..

Remembering – oh yes, change in communication — and – stillness. Feeling surroundings, light, sound, touch, smell, taste…..stillness… opening and closing eyes….was I asleep? Sanctuary….Peaceful….Aware….oh yes, I need to run that errand….and still a sense of Stillness. Breathing deeply, stretching, really back in the room. Moving on with my day.

A Different Way of Being through Yoga Nidra

By Jay Coldwell, RYT-200, iRest® Level 2 Teacher

The Yoga Nidra experience.

Yoga Nidra is an ancient technique, sometimes called “yogic sleep”. It’s signature practice is a guided body scan led in a particular order. The sequence of the body scan typically follows the physical organization of the motor cortex and sensory cortex in the brain. By focusing on the felt-sense of the body in this order, you reduce the activity of the Default Neural Network, which is where most of us live most of the time. That function of our brain continually tells us “our story”, and interprets the world around us, with a bias towards finding danger. In its place, we activate the Present-Centered Neural Network, which helps us live in the moment, see things clearly, and find inspiration.  

So, what is this experience like? 

You may find a different way of being. A way that is quite aware of the present moment, that is insightful and non-judgmental. A feeling of groundedness, peace, an inner joy. Sometimes the practice will be experienced as a restorative, transformative deep relaxation, and even sleep. Other times the practice will become an opportunity for deep inquiry, healing and integration. Whatever your experience, it is perfect for you, in this moment. 

 

What is iRest® Yoga Nidra?  

iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation is a modern adaptation of ancient yoga nidra techniques, informed by the wisdom of modern psychology.  Studies have demonstrated that iRest is an effective practice for people with anxiety, depression, chemical dependency, and PTSD. iRest has been brought to many diverse populations, including those who are homeless or suffering domestic abuse. It is beneficial for people living their lives in any situation, in work, school, or home life. https://www.irest.org/blog/how-effective-irest-proof-within-research-helps-too

 

iRest teaches that we can use our time in yoga nidra to notice everything that arises. These may be feelings, emotions, thoughts or beliefs; we learn to welcome them as guests, whether they are comfortable or not. We feel these messengers from the heart, as a felt-sense, and gain insight as to the message being delivered. We may receive insight as to actions we need to take, advice, as it were, from this messenger. These actions may help us to live in harmony with ourselves, with others, and with the world around us. We gain ease in living life that continues to bring joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. We find that we are not these experiences, rather we are the Awareness in which these experiences arise. We then can welcome and be with the great variety of experiences reality has to offer, and always respond most authentically and joyfully to them, no matter the circumstance. That is iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation. 

How is iRest practiced? 

iRest is practiced in many ways. It may be a 35 minute guided meditation in a quiet place. These extended practices are key to developing skills for daily life. But these skills may be practiced throughout the day in very short sessions, no matter where you are: 

  • It may be taking just a moment to scan the body from head to toe when you feel a need to be more present. 
  • It may be evoking your felt-sense of an Inner Resource or Sanctuary, when life feels a bit overwhelming. 
  • It may be noticing the breath and flows of energy in the body to help decode a message your body is sending.
  • It may be setting an intention for the day or the hour or the moment. 
  • It may be recalling your Heartfelt Desire, the feeling of life living you, as you measure whether this moment, or a particular decision fits what you are here on earth to do. 

As you incorporate iRest Yoga Nidra in your daily life, you may find that you now live more out of a sense of present-centeredness, rather than in a continual repetition of your story, and scanning for danger. You may find life living you.

Jay Coldwell is an iRest Level 2 teacher & Partner of 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness, offering “Mantra and iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation” on Mondays at 11:00 AM and 5:15 PM at 5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness, 2220 Sherman Street, Wausau, WI. Sample guided meditations can be found at this link: https://www.irest.org/try-irest-now